Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens

The Deep Dark Descending. Allen Eskens. Prometheus Books. October 2017. 272 pp. ISBN #: 9781633883550. 

Max Rupert is a detective tormented by the death of his wife and child she was carrying.  After a certain amount of time passes, Max is not allowed to have anything to do with the investigation of his wife’s passing.  However, Max discovers that she didn’t die in an accident but was deliberately murdered!  It doesn’t take much to imagine his fury and resultant reaction! 

Max has it on tape, a voice clearly indicating his wife was deliberately murdered.  Now he has to figure out who the Planner, the Henchman  and the Boss are!  The remainder of the story proceeds with Max figuring out the identity of the men responsible for Jenni’s death.  Somehow she discovered facts that could materially indict certain people over a crime involving Russian woman brought to America to serve as prostitutes.

This novel is harrowing as Max confronts the chief perpetrator and plans to kill him.  This is the essence of this story.  It raises questions of moral integrity.  When is it okay to wreak revenge on a killer?  Why should the law be the one to punish a murderer or murderers?  The laying out of these questions becomes clear when we see how Max begins to distance himself from everyone he knows, including a partner Niki, who cares for Max more than she should

The reader will be shocked by the end of this story and will certainly wonder what lies ahead in Max’s future.  This reader has the feeling that this will become clear in future novels.  For now, The Deep Dark Descending is nail-biting, tension-filled reading that lovers of crime thrillers, adventure tales and mysteries will thoroughly enjoy! Well done, Allen Eskens!

The Genius Plague by David Walton

The Genius Plague. David Walton. Prometheus Books. October 2017. 384 pp. ISBN #: 9781633883437.

Neil Johns is about to grasp the fulfillment of his dreams, to be a code breaker for NASA.  His brother is a mycologist who works with and is obsessed with the life of fungus, yes that’s right – fungus!  It turns out that biologically fungus is everywhere and duplicates faster than the mind can conceive.  The brother, Paul, and his friend Melanie escape from a brutal attack in the waters of the Amazon jungle.  He survives an infection that almost kills him, but he is not the same man he was before he contracted this brutal infection.  Instead he finds that if he doesn’t take his antifungal medication, he has phenomenal mental powers. 

At the same time Paul is recovering from his almost fatal illness, events are taking a turn for the worse in South America.  Coups are violently accomplished but unlike other changes in that part of the world, brutal dictators are uniting in purpose.

At first Paul sees the brilliance of fungus which even duplicates in the body and changes the mind, including the mind of his aged father who had been on the cusp of despair with Alzheimer’s disease but is now transformed and refreshed as an elderly man with purpose!

It sounds dangerous and frightening and so it is!  But the danger lies beyond what can be seen for what will happen when even humans cannot control the power of the transformative fungus that seems out to change and control the world?  The plot is simple but events move faster than the reader can imagine!  This is a science fiction novel that could become reality as microbial elements in the world are becoming stronger and resistant to all drugs and experiments.  Interesting read that this reviewer recommends as not only sci fi but also a great novel of international intrigue and mystery!

Osiris: A Novel by Eric C. Anderson

Osiris: A Novel. Eric C. Anderson. Adam Dunn Inc. September 2017. 212 pp. hb ISBN #: 9780996235235.  

ISIS drives a bevy of trucks into the American compound in Baghdad in the year 2019.  Within minutes, everyone who is not dead is the “walking dead,” carrying enough radiation to guarantee the end is near.  Who is involved in this attack?  Yes, ISIS but other powers have their eyes on this disastrous event and is trying to figure out how it will help their own power position in the Middle East.  Is this a winning disaster?  How? Why?

Turkey has spies in place, their objective to rid the area of Kurds and to bring back the Ottoman Empire.  A man named Odin is hired by Qatar leaders to make cyberspace attacks and even Israel is watching very carefully so that they may destroy the power that could mean their own eventual demise.

This novel is a pressure cooker military novel in which every nation is racing to enter Baghdad to claim the spoils (and that they literally are) of victory.  Enter a United States Marine who corrals material and supporting staff who will help him rescue those left in Baghdad.  He’s answerable to no one and toughly plans a rescue that seems all but impossible.  One officer higher in rank dares to question but knows he will get no more and is glad to be along for the challenge instead of sitting behind in offices waiting for the siege to end.

The novel is full of acronyms and a complex layer of characters that the reader must work hard to figure out.  A glossary at the end of the novel helps readers to figure out the weapons and technobabble on every page.

This is an international thriller that seems all too real to be completely comfortable.  Its modern warfare run amok!!!  Terrific read with shades of Ken Follett’s and Tom Clancy’s older novels! Enjoy the race for survival!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Dunstan. Conn Iggulden. Michael Joseph. June 2017. 544 pp. pb. ISBN#: 9780718181451.

Dunstan, a fatherless child, is raised by monks on Glastonbury Tor.  Intrigued by the mechanics of building towers, cathedrals and palaces, he quickly decides that knowing how to accomplish great deeds and pleasing those in power are just as important as one’s faith in God and devotional practices.  So, he quickly rises in the Church and becomes the acquaintance and friend of many Kings and Princes.

It is the year 937 and the Wessex King Aethelstan, grandson of King Alfred the Great, is trying to unite England into one kingdom.  However, there are Danes and Vikings who periodically attack England and the King spends more time away in these momentous battles than at his court.  Dunstan is no saint but realizes to attain his dream he must find favor with the King.  Highly perceptive, King Aethelstan does not totally trust Dunstan, but his son who will be King after him does trust Dunstan.  Indeed, Dunstan will become the friend of Kings who will support Dunstan’s dream of building the greatest Abbey in England.

Glastonbury Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral will indeed be built from Dunstan’s direction, but what Dunstan must do to accomplish these formidable feats is less divine and more in line with temporal machinations.  For Dunstan will murder, torture, lie, cheat, steal, betray and manipulate his way to glory!  The fascinating part of this life story is that he truly believes God will not hold these deeds against them since his goal of bringing glory to God is higher than anything else that occurs. At the same time, he also tries to bring his Order of Benedictines more in line with the plan of the founder of this well-known Order of priests and brothers.

Conn Iggulden is a Master Storyteller who knows how to wrap the reader in his plot, characters and multilayered conflicts and mesmerize him and her.  One is always sorry when a Conn Iggulden novel ends, and Dunstan is no different than the other historical novels Conn Iggulden has crafted.  This is a highly readable, magnificent work of historical fiction and is highly recommended for those who love a great story that is accurately and skillfully told!  Wonder-full!

Snow by Mike Bond

Snow. Mike Bond. Mandevilla Press. September 2017. 250 pp. ISBN#: 9781627040372.

Meet three successful men who are off in the Montana wilderness, free to hunt, drink and bond. They have no cares other than their high-stress lives, a stress none would give up except Curt, a half-Cheyenne mountain guide anxious to save his ranch from a takeover by a well-known energy company. Zack used to be an NFL football star and is now a TV sports newscaster. He loves his job but knows his football years have taken their toll on his body and even his mind. He owes a couple of million dollars to some high rollers in Las Vegas. Steve is a rabid Wall Street investor/broker whose confidence in investing money has gone much too far and he is now faced with the fact that he has lost not only his own money but also Zack’s money – millions! The “high life” is a capricious creature that can turn on a dime, making one bankrupt in seconds.

Miraculously or not, depending on one’s point of view, Zack and Steve find a crashed airplane inside of which they find a load of cocaine. Steve wants to turn “most” of it over to the police, but Zack’s having none of that. Curt really doesn’t know what’s happened until it’s too late.

For Maria Christina, a brilliant businesswoman, runs a cocaine cartel and has not taken well to her stolen cargo. She sets the executioner Diego onto the trio and at the same time the Feds get involved. It’s not very long before everyone knows where everyone else is and the race is on for very high stakes! There’s much more to this frenetic tale, including that Curt must make a choice to play criminal or snitcher!

“Lady Cocaine” is a costly habit as Steve and Zack discover but that doesn’t stop them from being enamored by her physical embrace. Readers won’t be able to put this book down as Mike Bond again makes them embrace the plot to the point it’s as if they were involved in the hunt of all hunts.

The plot is rather simple but Bond’s talent is as a Master of Suspense for sure!

Fast-paced mystery, adventure, and frenetic crime thriller!